June 17

Dignity for Divas

A South Lake Union non-profit makes a difference for women experiencing homelessness.

What makes Dignity for Divas so effective in its mission to help women through the challenges of homelessness? It was born from experience. Nikki Gane-Butler founded the local non-profit in 2012 after she escaped domestic violence and found herself without resources.

“It’s surprising—if you don’t have dependents and find yourself homeless, it’s pretty hard to find the resources you need. The resources that were available to me were lackluster and very surface-level in their offerings. They lacked the dignity that I was searching for,” she said.

Dignity for Divas started with outreach. Gane-Butler and a handful of volunteers would go on Diva Duty and hand out Diva Survival Kits every month. These kits contain everything a woman would need if she found herself somewhere with no money and no roof over her head. Think personal care hygiene, razors, lotion, mouthwash, toothbrushes, toothpastes, socks, underwear, perfume, earrings, tweezers, and much more.

Rear view of volunteers walking outside doing outreach to homeless.

“When I went through homelessness, I started to disintegrate. I lost myself. When you can’t maintain your personal hygiene, you start losing who you are. Every day that goes by you’re more unrecognizable to yourself and to others. The whole point of our Diva Duty is to provide the first touch of dignity. It’s seeing someone, and showing them that they can be themselves again.”

For Gane-Butler, dignity resets the value that someone has for themselves. When you start to reinsert dignity into a person’s life, you are showing them that they matter and they are valuable.

“Whatever happened to them doesn’t define them. You’re giving them their dignity back and that pushes them to want to win again.”

Dignity for Divas has distributed more than 65,000 Diva Kits since 2012. The organization also offers a Welcome Home Program, which takes a similar kit approach for women who have transitioned into housing. Other programs include skill building and self enhancement, with workshops covering everything from financial literacy to beauty and make-up, trauma healing, yoga, and more.

Image of a yoga studio with a purple floor.

The organization has volunteer opportunities, and even offers ways to give back where the whole family can participate by assembling Diva Kits. The best way to help the organization is to donate. Gane-Butler explained that, while the organization appreciates its large gifts and corporate sponsorships, any regular giving amount is incredibly helpful to Dignity for Divas. Each kit costs just a few dollars to assemble, so a small monthly donation every month means you will directly help individuals with a kit.

Learn more about how Dignity for Divas is helping women in need in the Puget Sound area.

Story by Ethan Chung & photographs courtesy of Dignity for Divas.


Nine

historic buildings preserved and restored